Driving up to the rather smart Kigali Marriott, you might think this is just another American hotel. However, enter the building and you will be appreciate the local touches to every aspect of the hotel. The Kigali Marriott’s decor displays the very best of Rwanda’s high quality crafts industry. The interiors are thoughtfully done and ooze Rwandese character. This extends to the staff who are smartly dressed in tailored uniforms with a touch of kitenge fabric. Every interaction I had with staff was characterised by friendliness and politeness, in an understated Rwandese fashion. I felt very welcome.
Time was against me on my recent visit so I didn’t have long enough to swim in the pool, have a massage in the Saray Spa or enjoy the huge gym but there’s certainly plenty to do if you’re planning to spend a weekend in Kigali. Actually, why not start your weekend on a Thursday? Thursdays are Ladies Night at Iriba Bar, the trendy cocktail bar on the ground floor. Cocktails and house wine are half price for ladies on Thursdays. There is live music, and free entry to all. The Iriba Bar also has Happy Hour(s) from Monday to Friday from 5.30-7.30 where it’s 2 for 1 on regional bottled beers and house wine.
On Sundays, spend the day by the swimming pool and enjoy a leisurely brunch for 25,000 RWF (with unlimited soft drinks) or 32,000 RWF (add regional beers and house wine) or 38,000 RWF (add Champagne to all of the above!) By the way, it’s great to see that the Marriott Hotel employs a lifeguard.
A note about exchange rates: 25,000 RWF is just under 30 USD. 1,000 RWF is approx 1.20 USD (June 2017).
Breakfast at the Kigali Marriott Hotel
Eleven types of pastry, three types of doughnut, fresh waffles, an ‘omelette station’ offering 20+ ingredients, dried figs and mangoes, yoghurts, fresh fruits galore, bread pudding with chocolate sauce, meringues in four pastel colours, what an incredible breakfast display! I hardly knew where to start! African food – added to the menu by Executive Chef Eduardo Frausto Cornish – included gatogo (or ‘katogo’ in Uganda), kahunga (ugali) and Uganda’s famous rollex (“rolled eggs”) of an omelette served in a chapati. Throughout the hotel, Rwandese-produced coffee is served and promoted, thanks to the Question Coffee community development initiative. Scroll down to see a few of my photos.
The Kigali Marriott’s award-winning chef!
Since my visit to the hotel, I had an opportunity to meet Chef Eduardo, at the annual Silver Chef competition, which this year was held at Birdnest Bunyonyi Resort, Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. He and his team had travelled from Kigali to support their competition candidate Chef Innocent Rutayisire.
Here the Marriott’s Chef Innocent was awarded second prize in a stiff competition between professional chefs working in the ‘Gorilla Highlands’ region of Rwanda and southwestern Uganda.
Was this the comfiest bed ever?
My air-conditioned room had all the features you’d expect of a 5 star hotel: fabulously hot shower, in-room safe, ironing board, bathrobes, expensive toiletries, mini handtowels and possibly the comfiest bed I’ve ever slept in. I simply had to soak in the big bathtub. (I was quite relieved that the many power points were of the three-pin variety as the muzungu had forgotten her adapter, as usual!)
Downstairs, the hotel has a state of the art fitness centre (gym), swimming pool, sauna and steam room. The Saray Spa has an extensive range of massages, body wraps, facials, waxing and scrubs. (There are singles and couples massage rooms, showers and lockers – every need is catered for). The Kigali Marriott has a range of flexible membership options, according to whether you are just visiting or are a Kigali resident wanting an occasional swim or regular gym membership.
The area around the pool has a welcoming, informal atmosphere and will soon offer barbeque options at the Sarabi Grill. The new Cucina Restaurant is finally open and serves top-class Italian food.
Perfectly set up – for business, leisure and tourism
The Kigali Marriott is the perfect hotel for visiting diplomats and VIPs, with close proximity to the Swiss and Russian embassies (and situated right next door to the Kigali Serena Hotel). The air-conditioned Executive Lounge (only accessible to guests staying on the Club Floor and above) is a good location for coffee meetings and catching up on some work. Breakfast and lunch can be served here and complimentary hot drinks and snacks are available 24 hours. The Executive Lounge has two private meeting rooms. Security levels are high. Only hotel residents can access the lifts, for example.
The hotel’s numerous boardrooms and function rooms are ideal for conferences, workshops, weddings, parties, cocktails, receptions and more. The Kilimanjaro Ballroom can be partitioned into smaller sections or opened onto the terrace for attractive breakout areas. It really is a splendid set-up.